The following is a guest post contributed by Open Educational Resources Librarian Kate McNally Carter.
Dr. Melody Yunzi Li, assistant professor of Chinese in the University of Houston College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, collaborated with the UH Libraries department of Open Education Services to create the first volume of a student-authored dictionary of Chinese popular culture terms.
Students in the spring 2023 Chinese Popular Culture course each defined three popular culture terms for their midterm assignments and were invited to contribute their work to this digital open educational resource (OER). This was the second successful collaboration with Dr. Li, following the development of another student-authored textbook for her Tales of East Asian Cities course last fall.
Both courses employed open pedagogy, a teaching approach that envisions students as co-creators of knowledge by inviting them to openly license and publish the work they produce in their courses. Open pedagogy emphasizes student agency by giving students control over whether and how their work is shared, and how they are credited as authors. This practice enables students to critique information ownership and the process of knowledge production, providing a greater understanding of the nuances of intellectual property and their responsibilities and rights as authors.
“Students benefit from research-oriented and self-directed teaching styles,” Li noted. “Incorporating OER into the course assignments and inviting students to participate in the open publishing process gives them perspective on the value of their contributions to knowledge in the field. Students are so engaged in the trends of Chinese popular culture, so it’s exciting to see them integrate their interests into their coursework.”
Open Educational Resources Librarian Kate McNally Carter supported the course by creating instructional videos and providing technical support for students, who used the Pressbooks platform to write and publish their assignments. Ariana Santiago, Head of Open Education Services, also provided consultative support at the outset of the project, helping shape the parameters of the assignment.
“We are excited about the opportunities presented by innovative teaching methods like open pedagogy,” Santiago said. “Open pedagogy is a unique teaching practice, because it encourages students to participate in co-creation of open educational resources. In this way, it helps students see themselves as authors who have valuable knowledge and experiences they are bringing with them to the classroom, and it invites them to contribute that knowledge to the teaching and learning commons.”
Collaborations with Dr. Li’s courses have enabled the Open Education Services department to explore how to support courses using open pedagogical practices. In these pilot courses, Santiago and Carter provided consultative, instructional, and technical support around the open pedagogy projects. Working with these courses in face-to-face and online modalities has enabled them to adopt effective strategies to teach students about open licensing, publishing content through Pressbooks, and appropriately citing and attributing other open resources.
One of the most important aspects of open pedagogy is preserving student agency over their work. In Dr. Li’s courses, students could elect to publish their work under an open license, allowing others to reuse and redistribute their work under the conditions of the selected license, or retain all rights with a traditional copyright license. They could also select how their name would appear in the textbook, use a pseudonym, or completely opt out of including their work in the published textbook.
“Students should be empowered to make informed decisions about whether and how they would like to share their work, and a large part of what OES does is make sure that instructors are aware of best practices for providing students with those choices,” Santiago said. “We can help facilitate this process and provide guidance about the most appropriate approach based on the assignment.”
Open pedagogy can be used for a variety of different assignments. “Instructors can give their students renewable assignments, which can be any type of assignment that has the potential to be used by others for teaching and learning purposes,” Carter explained. “When instructors invite students to share their work with an open license, this gives students an opportunity to contribute their resources to other instructors and learners, which benefits the learning of their peers.”
“This means that open pedagogy can be a particularly beneficial teaching approach for instructors who have a hard time finding updated educational resources,” Carter added. “Students are already creating educational materials in many of their assignments. Instructors can intentionally design their assignments to help students build on each other’s knowledge. Inviting students to give back to their current and future peers can make the educational experience more rewarding.”
The Open Education Services department is eager to grow this area of support. “We hope to continue supporting instructors with similar projects,” Santiago noted. To learn more about open publishing and open pedagogy, contact the Open Education Services department by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.